ECU football opens fall camp feeling improved from last year

Conference media picks ECU 8th, Cincinnati the favorites in preseason poll
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 7:00 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - It’s like a holiday. Day one of East Carolina football practice. The Pirates hit the field for the first official practice of fall camp Wednesday. They were happy about how they look coming out of summer break.

“Great to be out for the first day of practice. It was an exciting day,” says ECU head football coach Mike Houston, “Good enthusiasm, good effort from the kids, had a lot of the first day stuff.”

The Pirates closed last season with wins over Temple and SMU. Coach Houston wants to carry over the success they had in those games to this season. Particularly on defense.

“I just want to see a much, much crisper execution as we get on into the padded days, and get into week two of practice and all of that stuff,” says Houston, “As compared to what we were a year ago.”

“We are all just competing at a high level you know everybody is competing,” says ECU Cornerback Ja’quan McMillian, “It’s not just one group, or another group, it’s all of us that’s competing.”

Houston says QB1 had a good day. The D.H. Conley product is coming off a great year with high expectations.

“We are returning 10 of 11 starters, and most of our 2 deep is back, so you can just kind of jump into things,” says ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers, “Most of the guys here have played in big games here, have played for a long time here. Not just one year but multiple years they have been starters. So, it’s definitely comfortable.”

Ahlers was one of the guys recognized with preseason accolades.

“I think it’s important for our guys to keep their edge and not read that stuff too much,” says Houston, “That being said, in 2019 I don’t think we had a preseason anything. So, it’s good to have guys on your roster that have the ability to be on those lists.”

The pirates picked 8th in the conference media preseason poll. Houston says they play the games for a reason.

“I like our chances in every game we play,” says Houston, “But it’s going to be a friggen’ dogfight every week.”

2021 American Athletic Conference Preseason Media Poll

Team (First-Place Votes)


1. Cincinnati (22) 262

2. UCF (2) 241

3. SMU 188

4. Houston 181

5. Memphis 168

6. Tulsa 153

7. Tulane 132

8. East Carolina 85

Navy 85

10. Temple 46

11. South Florida 43

The favorite in the American Athletic Conference preseason media poll has ended up winning the conference title twice in the last 7 years.

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